A timeline of the development of St Helier Harbour

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The sort of winter weather which put paid to the 1870s harbour enlargement project

Opinions differ widely on when St Helier first had an operational harbour, but records going back to the mid-16th century show that attempts were being made to provide a safe haven on the east side of St Aubin's Bay. This is a timeline of events from then until the present day, when St Helier has a large and busy port providing commercial and leisure facilities - the island's largest.

1874 advert seeking investors to keep the project going
1858 advert seeking tenders for work in the English Harbour
14th century St Helier may have had port, but possibly no jetty
1545 Map now in British Museum shows rudimentary jetty and sea-wall south of town of St Helier sheltering sailing vessels.
1552 Fines imposed by Governor being put towards new Court House and building of le havre neuf (new harbour).
1585 Servais Le Vavasseur de Boi, collector of taxesm appointed to oversee three harbours of St Helier at Havre des Pas, Havre Neuf and l'Islet (leter called Havre St Jaume) on which Elizabeth Castle would soon be built
1587 Anyone removing stones from Havre Neuf pier threatened with fine of 20 francs
1599 Havre St Jaume still being built with voluntary contributions from merchants but unfinished
1628 Import duty for construction of pier at Havre des Pas confirmed; first agreed in 1618
1643-1647 References in Jean Chevalier's diary to use of harbour at Havre des Pas
1669 States permitted to levy import duties 'to erect a pier at St Aubin for the greater security of the merchants'. Large vessels were having to spend the winter at St Malo.
1679 Col Legge's Accompt identifies Havre des Pas as one of the island's six harbours
1685 Dumaresq survey says that havre neuf has been found 'inconvenient' and 'laid aside' in favour of harbour at Havre des Pas
1699 Lieut-Governor Col Thomas Collier successfully petitions Privy Council on behalf of States for permission to raise duties to rebuild Havre Neuf
1700 Work begins on rebuilding of Havre Neuf after completion of St Aubin pier
1706 Formation of Comité pour les Chaussées, first Harbours committee and oldest committee of the States
1720 Individuals lend money for completion of Havre Neuf project. This was the start of a prolonged period during which work on the harbour commenced and then stopped, contractors were not paid, the harbour fell into disrepair, and emergency funds had to be provided to protect it until work could restart.
1735 Construction of La Folie pier under way as part of resumed effort to complete Havre Neuf
1750 States decide to hold lottery to fund the building of a harbour at St Helier as well as improvements at St Aubin. Lottery is a success and on 2 June a wooden model of the harbour is shown to the States.
1754 Official visit by Harbour Committee members to view progress. Storm damage to completed sections had to be repaired as work on new sections progressed.
1758 Amice Laurens appointed St Helier Harbourmaster
1759 Further storm damage requires repairs and enlargement of the structure to withstand future heavy seas better
1761 States earmark all Impots duties for five years for harbour repairs and development
1762 Funds run out again
1765 Work on South Pier completed and harbour regulations amended
1768 States approve extension to harbour north of existing facility. This would still dry out at low tide and the newly-formed Jersey Chamber of Commerce draws up petition recommending that a quay be constructed 'from the bank within the Town pier round the rocks to the point turning into le havre aux Anglais and returning the wall to the nearer bank as the only means of securing the said harbour. This would make a wharf absolutely requisite to the loading and unloading of vessels, a float which at present can only be done by turns and which from the great increase of trade is attended with great inconvenience'.
1769 Adverse winter weather conditions bring work to a standstill
1772 Harbour Committee decides to borrow money to carry out repairs to deteriorating harbour pier
1774 Chamber calls for urgent repair work and offers financial assistance
1775 Harbour Committee reports that 'the quays are in a bad state and remedies should be promply sesorted to in order to preserve them'.
1778 Jean Lys appointed Harbourmaster and holds position for five years until he retires 'owing to his advanced years and infirmity'
1788 Chamber of Commerce again urges States to provide a proper harbour and Smeaton, the engineer who built the Eddystone Lighthouse draws up plans. The States reject them on the advice of local captains.
1790 Foundation stone laid for States preferred harbour project. Existing jetty rebuilt and lengthened and 200-metre breakwater, the North Pier, built to shelter moorings in French and English harbours.
1792 Further lotteries are held to raise funds for work on the new pier to progress, but they are not successful. Chamber of Commerce gives 12,000 livres to the States and work continues
1797 Building of slipway into French Harbour from La Folie commissioned
1798 Vessels start mooring alongside North Pier
1801 Work deferred for a year on repair work on existing structures
1803 Chamber of Commerce assumes responsibility for building of new quay at Havre des Anglais
1810 Winter storms cause considerable damage to all piers. Repair work is scheduled to take up to four years.
1814 Merchants start work on Quai des Marchands in front of what is now known as Commercial Buildings.
1817 Duke of Gloucester visits Island and has to scramble ashore on all fours over seaweed covered rocks at low tide to reach beach.
1832 Seawall and Esplanade built to allow access to harbor from west.
1837 James Walker commissioned by States to draw up plans for new harbour. These led to creation of Victoria and Albert piers.
1846 Prince Albert, visiting with Queen Victoria, asks why Jersey always builds its harbours on dry land.
1870 Sir John Coode's plan for an enlarged harbour chosen from 42 submitted to States.
1872 Foundation stone laid for major expansion of harbour with arms from La Collette and Elizabeth Castle.
1874 Storm washes away 200 feet of eastern pier
1875-76 Further storm damage over two winters causes project to be abandoned in 1877, having cost £160,000.
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